Monday, October 03, 2005

Warriors, Mods and a Music Nerd

Two recent films that have spent some time in my DVD player were The Warriors and Quadrophenia. Both came out in 1979 and both cover youthful rebellion but in very different ways.

I was never someone who roamed around town looking for trouble. I was someone that stayed in, listened to records, read magazines, watched TV and played video games for many of my high school weekends in the spring and summer. I was too busy with marching band stuff during fall and winter to really get out much, so I made the most out of my time there. So whenever I see movies about violence and youths, I can't say that I really experienced that kind of stuff. Jocks and cheerleaders mingled with student council and other fellow preppies while everyone else was in their own little bubble. I don't remember much tension between cliques; I remember mostly general misunderstanding and ignorance. There were no gangs or turfs; just some name-calling between the students with separate interests at Kingwood High School.

The Warriors is set in New York and follows the Warriors gang (complete with musclebound guys in brown leather vests) as they try to escape home after they are wrongly accused of murder. Yes, it's a rather gritty film in the vein of other '70s blaxploitation films but it's a tad on the "What in the world am I watching?" vibe. Rival gangs and their outrageous uniforms (most notably, the Baseball Furies with their baseball uniforms, bats and facepaint) don't want the Warriors on their turf and they unsuccesfully try to get them off their turf. It's an angry film filled with a lot of one-note characters (the bad-ass, the badder-ass, the stoic leader, the kid, the prostitute with some heart, the villain with no real motive) but this doesn't take away from the film. The Warriors is so over-the-top that I couldn't fathom it being any less.

Quadrophenia is set in the heyday of Mod, 1965, and follows a teen named Jimmy and his withdrawal from the movement. Mods were working class, dressed classy, rode Vespas around town, took a lot of pills and fought any Rocker (also working class, rode motorcycles and wore leather jackets) that crossed their path. When everything crumbles in Jimmy's life, he feels it's time to move on. Without going into all the details of it, it's a great picture with a killer soundtrack from the Who.

Why I bring up these movies is that despite the violence and my very different teen life from the Mods and the Warriors, these movies really struck a chord with me. Seeing the Warriors stick to their principles while everyone else thinks they're something else and seeing Jimmy give up his life as a Mod all make this parallel for me: they spolight outsiders in a group of outsiders.

Yes, it is very possible to be an outsider in a world clumped together as outsiders. I think it's important to "embrace your weirdness" (as it was put to me via an intervention a few years ago). What exactly that means is up to the individual and it takes a long time to realize it. It's easy to fall in line and not even know it. I may seem to fall in line with others, but I do what's best for me in being honest, fair and patient with others. Wherever that leads me is a great reason to live.

While The Warriors and Quadrophenia may seem like they're films all about youthful angst, I can't simply tag them as such. I'm not a kid anymore and technically, I'm an adult, but I can relate to these films now. There is something about being an outsider in a group of outsiders that holds no boundary to just youth. It's all in thinking for one's self.

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